14 November 2023

Next-gen tech is worthless without network reliability

Building connectivity reliability

It’s easy to get excited about the latest tech. Auto manufacturers are using mixed-reality technologies for design collaboration. Enterprises are using chatbots to improve customer relationships. Banks are using biometrics for customer authentication. And healthcare providers are using artificial intelligence for quicker, more accurate diagnosis. The fiction of sci-fi has become fact and, with cloud-based next generation technologies, businesses can operate more effectively, efficiently, and with greater agility.

What can appear somewhat less exciting is the underlying necessity that makes those technologies accessible. And that’s network reliability. If the technologies your business is investing in aren’t available due to network outages, you won’t see the benefit, or a return on your investment.

So let’s take a closer look at network reliability, why you need it, and what you can do to achieve it.

The frequency and cost of outages

Increased business dependency on digital services, as well as higher visibility of outage issues through news channels and social media, may give the impression that outages are getting more common. But that’s not necessarily the case.

In fact, Uptime’s annual analysis suggests outage rates have been gradually falling in recent years, at least in relation to the use of digital applications (which is expanding rapidly). The analysis indicates that, although most sites have experienced an outage in the past three years, only a small proportion are serious or severe.

The number of outages globally increases year-on-year as the industry expands. This increase, along with the obvious public impact of some outages, inevitably attracts attention and headlines. This can give the false impression that the rate of outages relative to IT load is growing, whereas the opposite is the case.”
 Uptime’s Annual outages analysis 2023*

But even apparently non-severe outages can have a significant impact on business operations, and can prove extremely costly. The same survey reveals a quarter of businesses spent more than a million USD dealing with their most recent outage. And a further 45% reported a cost of between 100,000 USD and one million USD.

The direct cost of outages can include penalties for breaching service-level agreements, or the costs associated with service recovery. But the biggest cost is likely to be disruption and lost revenue that directly results from not being able to access the digital services upon which businesses depend. There may also be indirect costs such as a loss of corporate reputation or brand equity following such disruption, as well as loss of employee productivity and job satisfaction.

Check out our survey which revealed office workers in Germany lose one week of working time per year due to Internet delays

With businesses so dependent on Internet access, everyday examples of disruption caused by even the smallest of outages can include:

  • A retailer’s cloud-based point-of-sale systems becoming inoperable for an hour during Black Friday, losing thousands in direct sales and having an immediate impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • An insurance company’s inability to access its AI-based risk analysis tool for a day resulting in a loss of revenue due underpriced policies, or dissatisfied customers due to overpriced policies.
  • A smart factory losing connection with its Robotics-as-a-Service provider for just a few minutes, bringing the production line to a halt and having a knock-on effect on the entire supply chain.

The disruption and cost of outages is likely to continue to rise as business dependency on digital services steadily increases. And this makes it vital for businesses to invest in network reliability and resiliency.

Read our case study to find out how our partner EnBITCon GmbH enabled a large law firm from Cologne to continue operating throughout the Microsoft outage in January.

Three ingredients for network reliability 

Outages are, to some extent, unavoidable. What’s important is how networks cope with, and recover from, those outages. In short, how resilient they are. A resilient and reliable network infrastructure is critical to making full use of next-gen technologies.

With that in mind, here are three key ingredients for network stability.  

1. A distributed architecture

A distributed network, also known as a peer-to-peer network is configured so that every participant can share data with the rest via multiple pathways, without going through a centralized point.

This type of network architecture mitigates risk while maximizing resilience because there are multiple entry locations and no single points of failure. With data and applications replicated in multiple physical locations, a distributed infrastructure delivers high fault tolerance, strong reliability, and fast recovery.  

2. A fully redundant implementation

A distributed architecture opens up the possibility of redundant data pathways that allow data to flow via an alternative route, or ideally multiple alternative routes, when the primary pathway fails.

But it’s not enough to focus solely on duplicating data pathways. Network configuration needs to be carefully considered and redundancy needs to be applied throughout, at access points, data centers, and carriers. If the data handover for multiple redundant pathways takes place on one device, and that device fails, all pathways will fail. Or if redundant pathways cross virtual connections in one data center, that creates a single point of failure. 

A truly redundant implementation requires fully duplicated infrastructure, from devices to connections, to deliver multiple fallback options that will keep the business up and running in the event of an outage. Find out more about why a multi-X strategy is essential in our recent article.

3. Diverse and neutral providers 

Over-reliance on any single provider – whether that’s a carrier, a data center, or a platform provider – will naturally increase the impact if that provider experiences an issue or outage. A reliable and resilient network will include a diversity of providers and ensure they are neutral – fully independent of one another – to maximize stability.

The concept of cloud concentration is a good example of where reliability can be put at risk due to a lack of diversity. Cloud services are designed to offer high levels of availability at scale with low failure rates, but there will always be some risk of outages. If a business puts all its critical data and applications into one cloud, a single outage could have disastrous consequences.

Explore our enterprise checklist to discover how a multi-cloud strategy supported by resilient interconnectivity through a cloud exchange can help businesses avoid cloud concentration risk.

Interconnection platforms deliver network stability

Interconnection platforms such as Internet Exchanges and Cloud Exchanges increase the resilience of data flows and offer stable and reliable interconnection environments. This is because they are distributed over multiple data centers within a metro region, protecting against outages and guaranteeing availability.

Participants can access all networks, regardless of which data center they use, and most networks have more than one port to enhance reliability. Direct connections between business infrastructure, networks, and clouds, backed up by full redundancy, minimizes downtime and ensures stability. 

Check out our guide Building connectivity for the world of tomorrow to learn more about how interconnection platforms enable reliability, as well as all the other elements you need to transform your digital infrastructure and support your business long into the future.